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We Must Be “Stonger Than Hate”



That word has the power to bring people together, and for some reason, it also has the power to tear people apart.

Religion lets us gather around dinner tables on high holidays, pray in places of worship, and can help us in times when we feel we need it most. As beautiful and multifaceted as the term “religion” is it also cause conflict and violence.

Growing up, religion was never a big part of my life. My family came to the United States of America thirty years ago as refugees fleeing religious oppression. When they arrived in the states priorities such as learning the language, earning money, and providing for a family took precedence over everything else. While they did not know the stories behind the holidays or the prayers to say during them, they still ate apples dipped in honey during Rosh Hashanah, fasted during Yom Kippur, and lit the Menorah during Hanukkah.

The fact that they didn’t know the prayers and did not belong to a synagogue did not matter, all that mattered was that they were in a country in which they could say they were Jewish, and say so with pride as opposed to fear.

America is a place that prides itself on being a country composed of many races, religions, and cultures. On October 27 2018, we woke up to hear the news of the massacre that took place in The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg.

While religion is not something I grew up with, I attended a Jewish high school which allowed me to learn about my religion. I was able to learn those prayers and stories that my family never had the chance to learn. I traveled to Israel and prayed at the Western Wall. I along with many high school students from across the world went to Poland to march out of the gates of Auschwitz alongside holocaust survivors as we waved Israeli flags in the air.

I take great pride in being Jewish and being able to say this to everyone. On Saturday morning however I felt fear. I still walked out and ran my errands as my hamsa hand keychain engraved with a prayer on the back dangled from my keys but it felt different.

We should not be living in a world in which I have to say that I stand against anti semitism, but rather in a world in which the term “antisemitism” does not exist. We should not have to fear saying who we are or what we believe in. We should not go to synagogue to celebrate life, only to be faced with death. We should not.

Saturday morning, I was reminded of the fact that no matter how far we think we have come against fighting hate and oppression towards religions that we still have miles to go. In order to get there, we must all unite. No matter what religion you practice or don’t practice; no matter what you believe or don’t believe, we are all people. People who deserve to practice and preach what they want to and feel safe to do so.


I'm Simona and I'm from Los Angeles! I am double majoring in Political Science and Psychology. Outside of school, I love going out with friends, traveling, and going on spontaneous adventures.
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